About this Course


World Civilizations is designed to achieve several goals: 1) familiarize students with basic facts of geography, history, and culture that every educated person needs to know to be an informed citizen of the world, 2) provide a foundation for later courses in many fields which assume such general knowledge, 3) illustrate the rich variety of ways that human beings have found of living in civilizations and 4) stimulate your curiosity to learn more. Click here for a more detailed statement of goals for the course.

It is a two-semester course of which 110 is the first semester. Although students are allowed to take 111 without having taken 110 first, it is greatly to your benefit to follow the logical sequence.

Please note that this is not a traditional history course. WSU has specified that this course should be granted credit half as a social science course and half as a humanities and arts course. This means that the literature, architecture, art, and music portions are not merely supplementary, but an essential part of the core of the course. We will be emphasizing cultural themes and patterns rather than events and chronologies. You will be asked to memorize very few dates; but you will be expected to trace and compare concepts across various civilizations.

Some students are surprised to find that the course deals very heavily with religion. Whereas in modern secular society religion tends to be compartmentalized as a largely private sphere set apart from normal concerns, in ancient times religion was often the organizing principle which gave shape to social patterns, the arts, government, law, the economy, and practically every other aspect of life. We study the great world religions not to convert anyone to or from any of them but to provide the basic information that is necessary to understand both our human past and present. No one religion is privileged: all are studied as valuable ways to understand the human experience.

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